I’ve been thinking about young love a lot lately as I get The Shift Series ready to come out of hiatus (stay tuned for more on that in next week’s post!) Specifically, I’ve been thinking about what makes stories of young love so enchanting. And here’s my hot take:

It’s not really about the age of the characters at all.

Hear me out. It’s about FIRSTS.

In YA novels, that takes the form of first love, first time having sex, first job, first time being on your own, etc.

In Romances written with adult protagonists, firsts look like a promotion, moving across the country or to a new town, first time being truly vulnerable with another person, first time finding sex genuinely satisfying–and a million other things.

It reminds me of the first time I saw my now-husband. We were both in college. I was the house manager for a production at the community theatre in town, and he was an actor. The first time I saw him was dress rehearsal. He was wearing a full face of stage make-up, but I hardly noticed (I’d spent a lot of time in and around stage make-up, so it was no BFD.) No, what I noticed was the way seeing him made my brain stop and go “whoa.”

That first sighting was important, and fleeting, and it set up the rest of our relationship. It was our very own meet-cute. 💜

But why are first experiences the secret sauce to a good story?

They’re ephemeral

I know this is going to shock you, but you can only do something the first time once. 🤯 But we don’t think about that very much, so it’s worth mentioning. That flash of first time feeling comes and goes, sometimes before we’ve even noticed it. Living firsts in stories is how we can reconjure the feeling and hold on to it, aware of its presence and impact, and even stretch it out into hours of reading instead of moments of experience.

I sort of wish I’d had this epiphany before I wrote The Shift Series, but that’s another experience lost to time. 😉

So, what do you think? Am I on the money, or off the mark?

Comment and tell me your favorite “firsts” in a story you’ve read—the ones you want to read over-and-over again so you can live and re-live them.

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